Islam Making Inroads in Haiti after 2010 Quake

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Islam is making inroads in Haiti, a country that's been dominated by Catholic, Protestant, and even Voodoo religions.

There are now at least five mosques, a Muslim member of parliament, and a nightly local TV program devoted to Islam.

The host of that TV show said Islam is in Haiti to stay, but the government doesn't recognize Islam as an official religion, nor does it honor Muslim marriages.

Many people converted when mosques took them in after the earthquake in Haiti that killed 300,000 in 2010.

A 2009 study by the Pew Research Center on the world's Muslim population estimated that Haiti had about 2,000 devotees. Islamic leaders in the country insist the figure is much higher and growing.

Islam is hardly unknown in the Caribbean; countries such as Trinidad and Tobago, Suriname, and Guyana have significant Muslim populations. Many of those nations have strong roots in countries such as India and Indonesia where Islam is widespread.

The ancestors of Haitians, by contrast, were brought largely from non-Muslim areas of Africa. Haiti's French colonial rulers also imported their Christian beliefs.

The recent growth of Islam, as well as other new religions, shows Haiti is modernizing and becoming more pluralistic, according to Patrick Bellegarde-Smith, a professor of Africology at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

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